By Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Currently listed at no.32 on the Women’s World Rankings, she beat Suh Hyowon, named at no.18 in three straight games (11-8, 11-9, 11-8) to give what must be regarded as the finest performance of her career.
Liking for Rio de Janeiro
The performance most certainly excelled her efforts on this year’s ITTF World Tour, in seven appearances her best is a quarter-final Women’s Singles finish in Slovenia.
However, perhaps the fact that she was playing in the celebrated Brazilian city was a source of inspiration?
At the 2011 Brazilian Open, staged in Rio de Janeiro, she won the Under 21 Women’s Singles event. It was to be the first of three such titles, later she won in Poland in 2012 and in Belgium in 2015.
“I was able to perform normally under pressure today and was firm in delivering my game; I won my first Under 21 World Tour title here in Rio back in 2011 and I won my first match here at the Olympic Games today, I think it’s a lucky place for me. I hope this luck continues for the rest of the Olympics.” Zhou Yihan
The win recorded by Zhou Yihan came after what appeared a pivotal moment in the contest, Feng Tianwei had beaten Suh Hyowon (11-2, 11-9, 12-10), before Jeon Jihee had levelled matters by accounting for Yu Mengyu (11-8, 11-4, 9-11, 11-6).
Would the doubles, the third match in the engagement decide destiny?
Jeon Jihee and Yang Haeun faced Yu Mengyu and Zhou Yihan. Impressively, the Koreans had seven ITTF World Tour Women’s Doubles titles to their credit, including three wins this year; they were crowned champions in Germany, Hungary and Poland. The outcome is that they occupy top spot on the Standings.
Equally Yu Mengyu and Zhou Yihan had proved a prominent partnership in the first six months of the year; no ITTF Tour Women’s Doubles title to their credit but they had reached the semi-finals in Japan and Slovenia.
“My teammates played very well, and I’m really proud of them. I lost my matches, so that gave them a lot of pressure but they stood firm and were able to seal the victory for our team.” Yu Mengyu
The verdict went in favour of Jeon Jihee and Yang Haeun in five games (11-7, 11-4, 4-11, 10-12, 11-7); the momentum was with Korea, especially as Suh Hyowon was the favourite to beat Zhou Yihan.
History tells a different story; fortunes changed in favour of Singapore when Zhou Yihan upset proceedings. She set the stage for Feng Tianwei to complete the task, the 29 year old Singaporean duly obliged, she accounted for Yang Haeun in five games (11-3, 9-11, 15-14, 11-4).
“It was an intense and tough match. I played the first and last match, so both were very crucial. It’s good that we didn’t come into the match with too much pressure; all three of us fought hard for every point.” Feng Tianwei
At the semi-final stage Singapore meets China, the fixture is scheduled for 7.30pm on Sunday 14th August.